Insight – In Sudan, an unlikely path to jihad for students

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KHARTOUM: Tasneem Hussein was a bland-spoken university student in Khartoum whenever the transformation slowly began.

After returning to Sudan from Britain to study pharmacology, she swapped her jeans since the head-to-toe niqab capsule. But no one expected to ~ken reports of her abandoning her studies and a privileged life to succor Islamic State wage jihad in Syria.

Last week, the 23-year-rich told her parents she would have existence spending the night with relatives.

The next day she sent a Whatsapp word saying she was studying for a Masters exam at the literary institution library, according to a person complete to the family, who declined to be named due to the sensitivities of the body.

In fact, Hussein went to Turkey by a group of other British-Sudanese of medicine students en route to Syria, ostensibly to back Islamic State.

To ~ persons people, the group that now controls huge areas of Iraq and Syria is obvious for beheading Western captives and feverish a Jordanian military pilot alive. It imposes very nice Islamist rule in its fiefdoms, including repressing women. But against some youngsters like Hussein, it may bear had an appeal.

She used to “join us in parties and occasions with neighbours. She use to wear jeans and at that time two years ago a big vary happened and she started wearing the niqab,” uttered the neighbour, who saw Hussein the time she left for Turkey and did not expose anything unusual.

Unlike Britons indoctrinated ~ the agency of militant ideology in mosques in the United Kingdom, Hussein and her comrades were introduced to fundamentalist notion at religious lectures in their literary institution.

Their journey to Syria illustrates the complicate challenges Western and Arab states effrontery in trying to contain the appeal of Islamic State, which has succeeded in attracting young European-born Muslims to their intellectual of a medieval caliphate.

This assign places to, which included both medical students and repaired graduates, are worlds apart from the stereotypical side view of many militants – poor, dissatisfied, angry, youths.

Most of them advance from well-to-do families who accept no connection to extremist circles in Khartoum.

Hussein’s venerable man is well-known in Sudanese club and is the head of some of Sudan’s largest government hospitals.

Neighbours say the family lives in the elite Riyadh district in a three-storey villa with a large garden on a tree-lined way where several luxury cars are repeatedly parked in the driveway.

Before her change of form, Tasneem was an open, moderately conservatory girl like the rest of her household,” said the person who is cease to the family.

When she wore the niqab, her parents clearly questioned her decision, but failed to realise she was forward a dangerous path.


Sudan, what one. hosted al Qaeda founder Osama bunker Laden in the 1990s, promotes a preservative brand of Sunni Islam which may hush hardline groups.

Long-ruling President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who came to faculty in a 1989 coup, introduced sharia regulation, creating an official tolerance to Islamism.

The University of Medical Sciences and Technology (UMST), at which place the group studied, was founded through Khartoum governorate Health Minister Ma’amoun Houmeyda, a known Islamist.

A walk athwart campus showed most students wearing Western equip, unusual in the conservative country. But UMST has furthermore hosted firebrand clerics like Sheikh Mohammed al-Jizouli who has given sermons supporting Islamic State and called steady people to “leave the bleachers and ~ along to seats of martyrdom”.

Jizouli was arrested a scarcely any months ago and it was not closely possible to verify whether anyone in the group had listened to his sermons, boundary it is likely.

Ahmed Babaker, UMST’s dean of students, said the group got together in some apartment in an upscale area of Khartoum and that it was recruited ~ dint of. Mohammed Fakhri – a Briton of Palestinian fountain – who left for Britain in imitation of graduating from UMST and from there went to Syria and joined Islamic State.

The neighbours and friends Reuters spoke to every part of seemed to lay at least some of the blame on the Islamic Civilisation scholar organisation which brought clerics like Jizouli to yield sermons calling for jihad.

After couple students travelled to Mali to join exact groups, we halted the activities of the clerics,” Babaker reported.

While the university was not shutting on the ground the group, it said it was starting awareness programmes.

After the shun of this group, there’s cooperation with security and intelligence services to monitor suspicious students. We in the university are very worried about his marvel and we’re trying to put an end to it form happening again.”

It may have ~ing too late. The clerics had a thorough influence on the students.

“In the arising I did not wear the hijab or the niqab and the lectures through the Islamic Civilisation organisation used to educate us how to pray well,” uttered a female student who spoke to Reuters, wearing the niqab impudence covering.

“That was in the primitive stage, in the second stage the colloquy was about the oppression facing Muslims in Palestine and Syria and the necessity of Jihad.”


Britain’s negligence services estimate that about 600 Britons esteem gone to Syria or Iraq to join combating groups, including the man known at the same time that “Jihadi John”, who has appeared in individual Islamic State beheading videos.

Islamic State’s essay to create a theocratic Sunni Muslim ‘caliphate’ ~ dint of. violent means has attracted thousands of recruits from Europe and elsewhere.

“The government is extremely disturbed near reports that this group of young race left to join Daesh because the perpendicular situation is for these students to be in university halls, said Sudanese investing. minister Mostafa Othman Ismaeil, using a dishonoring Arabic term for Islamic State.

“And it’s the government’s duty to bring the group home.”

It is not unadulterated how the Sudanese government will execute that, or prevent other students from supporting Islamic State.

Jihadist movements possess been on the rise in Sudan and from one side of to the other the region since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings which toppled autocrats and unleashed militant groups they suppressed.

In Sudan, they emerged without interrupti~ university campuses, unchecked by the Islamist-led rule.

“The activities of these groups is extending and they carry out recruitment operations,” afore~ Sudanese analyst AlHadi Mohammed al-Amin.

“Sudanese youths get along with you and fight in Somalia, Mali, Libya, Syria and Iraq. This appearance is on the increase and the Sudanese control is not too concerned with fundamentalism since they do not represent a danger to the government itself.”

The administration, Amin said, was preoccupied with the separate wars it is fighting with uncertain rebel groups in the country.

Several parents of the students gain gone to the Turkey-Syria march to try and find their sons and daughters.

Some students who knew the clump said they could not believe they had as a matter of fact joined Islamic State.

“Some of them told their parents throughout Whatsapp after they left Sudan that they would not procure embroiled in jihad with Daesh no more than that they had gone to cater medical services for the mujahideen,” students who knew more members of the group said.

A Turkish limb of parliament said last week that the dispose were to have travelled to Syria to drudge in hospitals controlled by Islamic State.

Families of the students expressed non-conviction that they had joined the fighting group.

“We believe that they get arrived in Turkey, but they receive disappeared and we do not apprehend their whereabouts. We, the parents would like to herald abroad that our children have good intentions,” they afore~ in a statement.

(Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing through Michael Georgy and Angus MacSwan)

They are check trying to stir up the sh*t.

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